Everan demonstrates an excellent “side base” before a Mini Monkeys class
“Base.” If you’ve watched Professor Tyson teaching a BJJ class, particularly for children you’ll hear this word brought up constantly. It’s the very first thing taught in our free 30-minute introductory private lessons, and also the beginning of every single stripe test. Whenever a new self-defense technique is taught, the children are reminded that worst case scenario, even if they completely blank on the technique and can’t remember what to do, that they should at least… (this is where they all know to shout BASE! in unison).
So, what is the base and why is it central to how we teach Jiu-Jitsu? In essence, the term “Base” refers to putting your body in a position that makes it difficult for the opponent to push, pull, lift, squash or otherwise affect your body in the way they want to. With that in mind, it’s impossible to put yourself in a position that works against all pressures at once, so different situations will call for different bases. For the children, we streamline it into two main bases, one for when the opponent is beside them and one for when the opponent is in front. For adults, every position in Jiu-Jitsu can have several different iterations of a base depending on the opponent. This can seem confusing or even frustrating, but less so if you think of it less like a hundred different base positions that you have to memorize, and more like simply looking at the position you’re in and thinking “What does my opponent want in this position, and what would make that difficult for them?” Often it’s something small and simple; For example, inside the closed guard it’s better to have your hands on the opponent’s body than on the floor, and to try to be as long from front to back as possible to put stress on their legs.
Professor Tyson and Instructor Cole working in the closed guard with Professor Douglas Moura in Brazil, 2015
These aren’t huge complicated changes to make, but the effect is enormous on the opponent. Having your hands on them instead of the floor means any move they make is against resistance which means that they will be slower, more predictable and tire more easily. Putting stress on the legs means they can’t relax and hang out in the guard, pressuring them to make decisions more quickly. That’s what base is really about – the small adjustments that can be made in any position to put more and greater obstacles between your opponent and what they want. Many martial arts styles neglect this concept and instead rely on being fast, strong and flexible enough to get what you want before your opponent does. That works sometimes for some people, but there is always someone stronger, faster and more flexible out there. Pay attention to your base, and before long you’ll be making these adjustments without even having to think about it!
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